Tag Archive | depression

Sadness, Depression, and Other Emotions

Music.2.Lord

Some good news came from the medical community recently. New recommendations have been made regarding screening adults for depression. Why is this good news for moms raising kids with mental illness (MI)? Because the news is elevating awareness about the prevalence of depression. Those whose lives are impacted by a loved one with depression need not feel so alone. Several reporters highlighted the need to remove the stigma surrounding MI.

The time has come to raise awareness:

USA TODAY published an article January 26th about the new guidelines for depression screening in adults. Liz Szabo shared those guidelines in her article, “Task Force: Doctors should screen all adults for depression.”

In that article, Szabo included this quote from one of the task force members.

“‘We’re hoping that our screening guidelines are an impetus to increase awareness that depression is common, it’s painful, it’s costly and it’s treatable,’ said Karina Davidson, a member of the task force and a psychologist in the department of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.”

The new guidelines also addressed depression in pregnant mothers. That has prompted discussions about the difference between baby blues and clinical depression that can follow the birth of a child. So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about emotions.

Regulating Emotions:

When I taught second graders, I planned several class reinforcement activities. Often the entire class deserved to be rewarded. Instead of handing out stickers, I preferred to involve my students in fun mini-lessons. One of those was an art/music activity.

“Use your crayons to draw on your paper a design that matches the music being played,” I’d instruct.

I’d start by playing a slow, classical song. The students would move their hands slowly across their papers. Even their bodies would sway gently to the music.

Then, I’d switch to a fast, lively tune. That would trigger an instant shift in mood. Suddenly, I’d have 25 bouncing beans for students—all with heads like bobble heads. They’d make short, jerking strokes on their papers.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to shift our child’s mood so easily?

A Biblical Example of Emotional Relief:

There’s one person in the Bible who could ease a king’s torment.

1 Samuel 16:14-16 sets the stage:

“Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. Saul’s attendants said to him, ‘See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.’

God used David to sooth Saul’s torment.

“Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him” (1 Samuel 16:23).

The Power of Music:

Can music be that powerful? It absolutely can be used to minister to a depressed child. I’m not advocating that it be the only strategy used to help a child who is depressed. A multi-disciplinary approach to treatment is necessary, where a team of specialists treat the mind and body. Skilled therapists or counselors can provide encouragement and teach coping strategies. In addition, a psychiatrist can prescribe medication to treat the neurophysiological cause for the depression.

We know it’s also important to address the spiritual well-being of our children. God is in the business of meeting those needs. He answers our prayers and faithfully fulfills His promises. In addition, the Bible gives us another tool to comfort our emotionally fragile children.

His Word is full of references to music. Click here for a list of some of those verses: Music Verses

You look at your child’s despondent face, void of expression, and wonder if playing worship songs will help restore joy. You hope it can provide relief like David’s music did for Saul. I believe it can calm turbulent emotions.

Let me share another anecdote that illustrates the power of music. Years ago, I was the Bible instructor and Assistant Director for an overnight Christian camp for handicapped children. Each summer children with a variety of special needs attended our camp for one week. Campers were assigned to groups according to their age and disabilities. One group consisted of young elementary age boys who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). To say they were a handful to manage would be an understatement! Their schedule included a mid-day nap or resting period. Not only did those active kids need it, but so did their counselors.

Their senior counselor came to me one day seeking help. His bleary eyes reminded me of how mine looked when I’d pull an all-nighter studying at college.

“The boys won’t sleep or even rest during nap period. PLEASE, you gotta help,” he begged.

“I’ll stop by their cottage during nap period,” I promised.

Later that day, I headed toward their cottage. Before I could see the cottage, I could hear music playing loudly. The closer I got to the cottage, the more I realized the sound was coming from their room. The blasting music had a fast drumbeat. It was the kind of music you’d play at a wedding to get the guests up on their feet to dance. Surely not the kind of music you’d play to help hyperactive children drift off to sleep!

I entered the cottage and unplugged the boom box. I left with the boom box under my arm, calmly assuring the counselor, “You shouldn’t have any more problems.” And he didn’t.

That story shows how music can drastically improve the behavior of children with special needs. If it can be such a powerful behavior-management tool, surely it can calm emotions. Especially worship songs that tell of God’s love and faithfulness. Like Matt Reddman’s song ‘Your Grace Finds Me.’  Allow his lyrics minister to you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmFJkGEv3Lw

 

 

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Proof Individuals with MI Can Contribute

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It’s easy to laugh with the comedian, but hard to understand the man: Robin Williams. He was gregarious on the outside, yet tortured on the inside. Why was it such a shock when he committed suicide? He openly revealed his mental illness (MI). The news stunned us because he hid it so well.

The Bible tells us about such concealed torment.

“Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief [Proverbs 14:13 (NKJV)]”

The Message translates that verse this way:

“Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.”

Robin Williams’ emotions were like a termite-infested house covered with fresh paint. His delightful demeanor hid destructive pain. People refer to the battle he fought. They say be wrestled with demons. In actuality he struggled with a disease: severe depression. In his mind lived both unbridled humor and inconsolable depression.

Fellow actors speak of his empathy and big heart. Imagine the effort it took for him to give so much in spite of his emotional pain. With his life snuffed out, one bright lesson remains: people with MI can contribute. That should be of some encouragement to those of us raising kids with MI.

But there’s another lesson for all to learn. Something else contributed to his death. What pushed such a seemingly successful man to end his life? He had recently spent time in rehab. But that apparently couldn’t cure him of his depression. Could it be that shame and stigma compounded his inner turmoil?

As mothers who know that shame. Let’s commit to praying for an end to the stigma that surrounds MI.

Dear heavenly Father,

Move in the hearts of people. Build a culture of compassion for those with MI. Restore joy and clarity of thought in the minds of those who suffer with MI. Especially our children.

In Christ’s name, Amen

 

A Reason to Smile

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” Psalm 3:3

Does putting on a happy face work? It depends on the goal. It might succeed in fooling others. But, we can’t fool ourselves by pretending to be cheerful. We can attempt to hide sorrow and pain. But, a fake smile can’t change the fact that there is turmoil either in our heart or in our home (or both).

This past weekend I had a reason to smile.  Our son, Chris, participated in his church’s celebration of the arts.  The fact that he’s actively involved with his church makes me happy. When his performance went well, I smiled. The reason for my sheer delight came when I introduced myself to one of Chris’s friends.

“Hi, I’m Chris’s mother.”

“Hello, Mrs. Chandler. I’m so glad Chris is my friend.”

It warmed my heart to hear that comment.

People who have mental illness (MI) are often excluded, misunderstood, ostracized, or ignored. What a joy to know someone sincerely values their friendship with Chris!

Any mom is happiest when everything is going well for her kids. If her kids are cheerful, so is she. Our children can be the greatest source of joy.  Or sorrow.

A mother of a child who has MI yearns for that child to be content and peaceful. To have a reason to smile.

We grow weary of putting on a superficial smile. Painting it on like lipstick to conceal opposing feelings. To hide the shame. To pretend everything is normal and fine in our lives.

But God cares about what’s behind that façade. In His Word we read that, “Even in laughter the heart may sorrow…” (Proverbs 14:13).  Our Father knows when we’re putting on a good front. He sees past the false expression, to the hidden sorrow. He knows the solution requires more than a Kodak-moment smile.

No wonder the word smile appears infrequently in the Bible. It’s much easier to find words like: delight, joy, grateful, and cheerful. Those deeper emotions swell up inside until they spill over to our face.  They give us a real reason to smile.

God can fill our hearts with such joy that it bubbles up from our soul and onto our face. We see depression causing our child to curl up, with head hung low. And find hope in the Lifter of heads. The One who can restore joy to our children and to us.

How has God given you a reason to smile?